I'm currently an undergraduate student in the US but looking seriously into some master's programs at European universities for the international experience, cost difference in my field, and exposure to different styles of study. I'd also like to become a high school teacher someday at a public or private school, most probably in the United States.

I understand that each state has license requirements for public school teachers, but as far as where they get their higher degree, would it be disqualifying if the graduate university is outside the US? Does the type of accreditation matter (like if it is accredited in the US, or by the government of the country in which it is located, or another authority)?

For context, the universities I'm looking at are in EU countries and the UK and middle-to-well-ranked.

EDIT: For clarification, I am a US citizen by birth and will earn Bachelor's degrees in the US. And as far as why I mentioned I'm looking into US schools, I would totally be open to pursuing a career abroad but I know attaining second citizenship can be difficult and I have know idea what job markets are like abroad... the US just seemed like the more realistic option.

  • @astronat lookin' ahead a couple years yeah :( sucks Feb 12, 2018 at 22:18
  • Having a higher degree gets you a higher pay packet once you're getting one, but it doesn't get you the pay packet in the first place. That said, if you can get a master's degree from a decent European university, and an educational qualification to satisfy requirements, why are you looking at USA public high schools at all, except on purely ideological grounds? Even USA private schools for that matter...
    – Nij
    Feb 13, 2018 at 6:57
  • Please also consider funding a master's in the US by working as a teaching assistant. // I suggest you select a state where you might want to work, and look at the certification requirements to familiarize yourself with what's to come. // You'll be more employable if you can build up some teaching experience. This is another good reason to consider working as a TA while pursuing the master's. // All that said, study abroad could be a very positive thing in and of itself. Feb 14, 2018 at 4:26

2 Answers 2


The short answer is that your EU Master's degree would typically be about as useful as a US Master's degree in your subject area, which is not very helpful by itself.

Most of the requirements to be licensed as a teacher in most states in the US have more to do with what training you've had in education rather than your subject matter expertise.

A further important point is that if you aren't already a US citizen and unless you can immigrate to the US through some other pathway (e.g. by being married to a US citizen) you'll find that it is difficult if not impossible to get work authorization to teach in a school in the US.

  • 5
    Yes, indeed, perhaps counter-intuitively to some degree, in the U.S. most college-level "X-education" programs (with X="math" for example) do not emphasize subject-matter expertise in X, but do emphasize "X-education", grounded in general issues of education, cognition, psychology, sociology, rather than issues of the subject X. The "X-education" programs in the U.S. aim at meeting accreditation requirements to (e.g.) teach X in high school. Perhaps counter-intuitively, having a Ph.D. in X would get you nothing at all in this regard. It's about "education" certification... Feb 13, 2018 at 0:03
  • @paulgarrett I think it makes more sense instead of being counter-intuitive...high school teachers are typically not teaching subject-specific masters-level content. Even if you're going to teach something like calculus in a high school, is it more important to know how to explain mathematics to a diverse high school audience, or is it important that you have a mastery of graduate-level mathematics coursework? That said, some states are moving cert requirements in the other direction, to bring in more subject-matter expertise over education training.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 13, 2018 at 17:35
  • @BryanKrause, oh, I don't disagree that the challenges of high-school teaching (both my parents taught math in high school) are not much about math, but about communicating with adolescents. But the general public does not seem to know that high school math teachers are not at all assured to be subject-matter experts. Also, the occasional more-capable or more-interested kid in high school may put too much stock in the mathematical expertise of their math teachers... and some teachers seem not to know their own subject-matter limitations... Feb 13, 2018 at 18:46
  • @paulgarrett Understood, thanks for the clarification of your comment. Although I think that kids that are interested in a particular subject very quickly find the limits of high school education in whatever their preferred field is - their expectation might be that their math teacher has mathematical expertise, but I don't think it takes long for them to realize when that expectation is violated. It's pretty much impossible to have a system that works well for the 25th-75th percentiles and also for the 99th.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 13, 2018 at 19:03

Every state in the US has slightly different requirements for obtaining a teacher credential. Many states actually have a list of oversea degrees the recognize. However it is always possible to have your degree and transcripts examined by the local state government. You would need to have your documents recognized by the issuing country's embassy before submitting them to a state government.

Once the documents are approved you would need to obtain the actual teaching license. This involves passing a test and taking a year of classes focused on pedagogy . Many states will allow you to teach while completing these tasks.

Given the general shortage of teachers it is fairly easy to complete these steps. With a graduate degree this would put at an advantage to obtain a position.

  • "General shortage of teachers"? Where? How so? Feb 20, 2018 at 15:06

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